JUMP In: Math Tutoring Program Slows Pace, Builds in Repetition and Get Results

Created in Canada 20 years ago, JUMP math serves about 20K U.S. students and has improved scores for many.

JUMP math creator John Mighton conducts a demonstration lesson at a school in Seven Oaks School Division in Manitoba, Canada. (JUMP math)

Get stories like these delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for The 74 Newsletter


As a student, JUMP math curriculum creator John Mighton remembers struggling with the subject and then quickly beginning to panic as he fell behind. The fast pace of the curriculum he was taught prevented him from catching up and then his anxieties about being too slow got the best of him. 

“I would always compare myself to the kids who seemed to get things immediately,” Mighton said. “I gave up all the time. I really thought you have to be born with a gift for math to do well and I clearly don’t have it.”

Mighton said that too often, when students “decide they’re not in the talented group, their brains stop working.”

“It becomes a vicious cycle,” he said. “It becomes harder and harder for you to learn math.”

For this reason and others, Mighton built plenty of repetition and review — and an intentionally slower pace — into JUMP math when he designed the curriculum 20 years ago in Canada. It is now used by 10% of all Canadian students as a classroom resource and by about 2 million students globally, including in the United States, Spain, Chile, Bulgaria and Colombia. 

Within the U.S., JUMP provides resources to about 20,000 students annually across Louisiana, California, New York, Washington, Maryland and Michigan. In both 2022 and 2023, the program received grants from Accelerate, a national nonprofit that has given more than $30 million to various groups to scale tutoring efforts post-pandemic. Mighton is using the $400,000 in Accelerate funds to study the impact of JUMP’s curriculum as a tutoring resource in Louisiana and Michigan.

Robin Collinsworth, an instructional coach for math and science at Choudrant Elementary School in Choudrant, Louisiana, which uses JUMP math as both its primary classroom curriculum and as a tutoring resource, said it’s “different from most curriculums” because of its focus on scaffolding.

Collinsworth said that with JUMP lessons, instructors “unravel the content one strand at a time.” 

“By the end of the lesson you weave it all back together in a logical way that makes sense to kids,” Collinsworth said.

Kristanne Grange, a third-grade teacher at R.H. McGregor P.S. in Toronto where the whole school is piloting JUMP’s math curriculum, said that with some previous math resources she’s used that were more based on open inquiry, students approached problems “without any fundamental skills” and were lost. In contrast, Grange said JUMP is “almost back to the rote ways that I used to learn where there was a fact-based repetitive style to the curriculum.”

“This program is very much based on more individual practice, more building on skills as they come,” Grange said. “It’s very much like Legos clicking together. And so the children develop a lot of confidence and have a really good foundation to lean on when they start focusing on a problem.”

Brent Davis is a professor of math education at the University of Calgary who has been collaborating with JUMP and Mighton for years. Davis said there are “typically” between 10 and 20 things a student needs to notice in order to understand a mathematical concept.

“In order to learn mathematics well, to make sense of any given concept, you have to notice a whole bunch of little things around each concept,” Davis said.

Davis said Mighton and the JUMP math team are “especially talented at identifying everything that somebody needs to notice in order to understand the concept” and that all of those things are “already built into” the JUMP math curriculum.

“I know of no other resource that does that,” Davis said. “It is incredibly well engineered.”

A JUMP math-trained teacher delivers a lesson to students at a school in Seven Oaks School Division in Manitoba, Canada. (JUMP math)

Mighton said the number one thing that stands out about JUMP Math is that “we have evidence.”

A two-year random control trial study of over 1,000 elementary school students in Canada who were taught with JUMP math found those students made “significantly more progress in math learning in the second year, especially in problem-solving.” 

“JUMP math may be a valuable evidence-based addition to the teacher’s toolbox,” the study states.

Manhattan Charter School, which serves low-income students on New York City’s Lower East Side, saw the biggest improvement in math scores in the city in 2014 — the same year it adopted the JUMP math curriculum, according to JUMP math. Manhattan Charter School did not respond to a request for comment. 

Five New York City district public schools in Brooklyn implemented JUMP math between 2017 and 2019. Two of those schools “achieved striking gains” on state tests, according to JUMP math. In one school, the number of students scoring proficient in math increased by 23 percentage points. The NYC Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment.

JUMP math’s initial grant from Accelerate, for $250,000, was used to implement “digital interactive lessons that students can use for independent, self-paced learning,” in Louisiana, Mighton said. The lessons were tested last spring with about 1,000 students. Students were given half-hour intervention periods during the school day to complete the digital lessons. 

Mighton said that the digital lessons were created by recording “master teachers” teaching from JUMP math lesson plans and then splitting the lessons into short, two-minute clips. Then, Mighton said, JUMP inserted “digital interactive questions” between the clips to assess whether students understood the material.

“The study’s goal was to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and support systems required to successfully implement a scalable tutoring model to address learning loss among students,” a JUMP math press release said. “The report shows improved overall math proficiency among participating students, whose learning progressed rapidly while using the JUMP math lesson modules over a two-month period, with a statistically significant improvement in scores across all modules.”

Tilman Sheets, a psychology and behavioral sciences professor at Louisiana Tech University, said in the release “the report findings suggest that the implementation of dedicated tutoring support and resources might contribute to reducing disparities in math skills among our most vulnerable students and may help to cultivate an interest in this critical subject.”

Collinsworth, the Choudrant Elementary School instructional coach, said that her school participated in the initial Accelerate study with digital sessions. Collinsworth said a fourth-grade class and two fifth-grade classrooms took part and all three saw gains. Collinsworth said a sixth-grade class also did the digital lessons, but said “there was a glitch in the module” so that class did not show growth.

The second Accelerate grant, for $150,000, is being used by JUMP to study both in-person and online live tutoring with JUMP resources. The study includes about 300 students in grades three through eight in both Louisiana and Michigan. In Louisiana, tutors are Louisiana Tech University students who come into schools for in-person tutoring, according to Mighton. In Michigan, tutors are mostly volunteers, he said, and some do their sessions with students online, while others tutor in-person.

Collinsworth said Choudrant Elementary is also participating in this second pilot.

“Everything is going really well and I expect to have positive results,” she said.

Dana Talley, the chief academic officer for Lincoln Parish School District in Louisiana, which includes Choudrant Elementary, said teachers who execute JUMP math lessons “the way it’s intended just really get good results.”

Talley said it is exciting to see JUMP math branch out into tutoring.

“The way JUMP is set up, the teacher in the classroom is a personal tutor for kids,” Talley said. “That’s how it’s designed. So I feel like it makes a ton of sense. They definitely have the right curriculum to move into the tutoring realm.”

Mighton said he expects tutoring to take on an even greater role in JUMP’s evolution.

“There is such a need,” he said.

Disclosure: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Overdeck Family Foundation provide financial support to Accelerate and The 74.

Get stories like these delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for The 74 Newsletter

Republish This Article

We want our stories to be shared as widely as possible — for free.

Please view The 74's republishing terms.

On The 74 Today